4 Jun 2015

Scott Watson wins interview court case

7:06 pm on 4 June 2015

Convicted double murderer Scott Watson is a step closer to giving a behind-bars interview to a magazine.

Scott Watson in High Court.

Scott Watson in High Court. Photo: Pool / John Kirk-Anderson

The High Court has today overturned a Department of Corrections decision which banned Watson from speaking face-to-face with North and South journalist Mike White.

Watson, who is serving a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, sought a judicial review of the decision, which Justice Rachel Dunningham has allowed based on the right to freedom of expression.

He has maintained his innocence since being convicted in 1998.

Justice Dunningham's decision said Watson's desire to draw attention to his claims of a miscarriage of justice would inevitably have an adverse effect on the victims' families.

However, she said the purpose of the interview would be to allow Mr White to investigate Watson's claims.

That was recognised as a circumstance which pointed strongly in favour of permitting communication in a free society, Justice Dunningham said.

However, the Department of Corrections' decision to ban Watson giving the interview could not necessarily be seen as an attempt to stifle his right to speak freely, because he had still been permitted to write to the journalist, she said.

She said Corrections had not provided any justification as to why a face-to-face interview would prove more harmful to the victims' families than an article put together from a series of letters written by Watson to the journalist.

Department of Corrections deputy chief executive Vincent Arbuckle said he would reconsider White's application to interview Watson behind bars.

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